Miami may have a Major League Soccer team within the next 30 days.
In the most encouraging sign that soccer superstar David Beckham will locate an expansion franchise in South Florida, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said Thursday that the league expects to make an announcement next month.
"I was down there this past weekend, and I've been down there a lot, working with potential ownership and trying to finalize a stadium plan," Garber told media at the MLS SuperDraft. "Right now, we've got a lot of work to do, and we'll announce something in early February."
Garber made it clear in early December that getting a soccer-specific stadium built downtown is vital to landing a franchise for Miami. Beckham's investment group has been in discussion with Miami-Dade County about building a stadium at PortMiami. (Story continues below.)
The Miami-Dade commissioners last month authorized Mayor Carlos Gimenez to negotiate with Beckham's group on a stadium, though the county would not provide funding. Although expected to be largely privately funded, Beckham's group subsequently hired prominent Tallahassee lobbyist Brian Ballard to help seek a state sales-tax subsidy similar to what other professional sports teams across Florida have received for building stadium facilities.
Beckham, who retired as a player last year, had a discounted $25 million option to purchase an expansion team that was supposed to be exercised by the end of 2013. How missing the deadline will effect that option is unknown. Since the New Year, league officials have only said that they are continuing to negotiate with Beckham's group. ___